If you don’t frequent fast food places and other chain restaurants, you might have the idea that each one basically offers just variations on a few kinds of food over and over — burgers, chicken nuggets, and those famous fries at McDonald’s; tacos, burritos, and gorditas at Taco Bell; pepperoni pizza with a few possible additions at Domino’s — and so on.
If you’re a chain restaurant regular, though, you’ll know that every example of the genre is constantly reinventing its menu, experimenting, rolling out seasonal specialties (and then rolling them back in again). Chains may depend on their bedrock specialties for consistency, but they’re always looking for new ways to get regulars to spend their money and maybe to tempt new customers to give them a try. (Adding yet further variety, many operations permit and even encourage patrons to customize their orders. Here are some secret off-the-menu items to order at your favorite chain.)
24/7 Tempo regularly reviews the Menu Tracker column published several times a month by the leading national restaurant trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News. In it, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, Bret Thorn, reports on the latest additions to menus at prominent chains around North America, fast-food and otherwise.
In culling our list of new items from the past four appearances of the column, we’ve filtered out chains operating exclusively in Canada, and given preference to those that are the best-known and/or largest across the country. (These are the most successful restaurant chains in America.)
Some new menu offerings on the list will be available permanently (or until the chain decides to retire them), while others are available only for a limited time, specified or not. As usual with such lists, pizza, burgers, chicken, breakfast dishes, and plant-based proteins all figure more than once.